In the interest of full disclosure I should begin this review by mentioning that I am personal friends with the assistant manager at Elote. His name’s Andrew, we’ve known each other since high school, and we both know enough bad stuff about each other to leave us at a curious social stalemate where each of us only says nice things about the other. But don’t fret, reader, for I was a patron of Elote long before my incredibly handsome friend started working there, and my first experience with Puffy Tacos, all those years ago, was untainted by the bonds of friendship.
To get the full Elote experience I went with friend and fellow Collegian writer Adam Lux, as well as his friend Meghan, to $2 Puffy Taco night. The restaurant, located at 514 S. Boston Ave. in the heart of downtown, can best be described as a socially-conscious Mexican restaurant. Opened in 2008 by a native Tulsan, their website claims that the restaurant uses only local meats and fresh vegetables, does not add unnecessary fats, and uses biodegradable to-go boxes and cutlery. They even compost.
But none of that would matter if their food wasn’t so good. And it is good. It’s great, in fact. The restaurant’s signature dish, the Puffy Taco, consists of a soft, pita-like tortilla with black beans, lettuce, tomato, sour cream and either meat or sweet potato. The Puffy Taco comes in four varieties; chicken, pork, beef and veggie. On Wednesday night, Elote offers smaller versions of chicken and veggie Puffy Tacos for $2 each.
The chicken taco is good, if ultimately not terribly different from other chicken tacos, but the real star of the show is the veggie taco. I am a devout meat-eater, but I can tell that the Puffy Taco was designed with vegetables in mind. As my friend Andrew pointed out, the sweet potato that replaces the meat adds a complexity of flavor that is not present in the meat-based versions. I realize it may not be entirely kosher to quote a restaurant’s manager when doing a review, but he’s right. The sweetness of the sweet potato nicely offsets the starch and savoriness of the tortilla. The sour cream, of which I am not usually a fan, adds a nice twist at the end of the bite. The lettuce and tomato add a little freshness to the flavor, as well as adding a crunch to the prevailing creaminess of the beans and sweet potato.
Is it worth the money? At only $2 per taco, I’m inclined to say yes. Depending on how hungry you are, it will probably end up being a little less than a regular meal at Elote, or about the same as dinner at the Hut. But be warned, the tacos are smaller on Wednesday night and the deal doesn’t include rice and beans. Still, it’s really good food, in a really cool part of town. All you need to do is find some really cool people to take with you and you’ve got the makings of a lovely Wednesday night.
Mod’s Coffee and Crepes, across the street from Elote, offers $2 gelato on Wednesday night. So if you’re hungry for something sweet after your tacos you can head over and try one of their myriad flavors. They have regular varieties, such as chocolate and stracciatella, a sugar and cream mix, as well as an ever-changing lineup of other flavors such as cookies and cream and mango. $2 gets you a small cup, but the stuff is so rich and sweet you won’t need much more than that. While you’re in the building, you can check out the sweet art-deco lobby in the Philcade and appreciate the assortment of old-school knick knacks in the Art Deco Museum.
Puffy Tacos are a singularly unique experience of texture. The fillings of the taco are perfectly seasoned and portioned but ultimately it is the tortilla that steals the show. The thick fluffy shell finally ends the soft vs hard shell taco debate by crowning itself as the victor. Carbaholics beware, this thing is good. If, after a wonderful dinner at Elote, you find yourself at Mod’s and want something a little unconventional I recommend the salted caramel gelato. This sweet and salty dessert is for those of us who enjoy sticking french fries in our milkshakes and feeling superior compared to regular plebeians.